Georgia Short Term Rental Laws: Airbnb and Vacation Rental Regulations

Georgia short-term rental laws and regulations are up the individual cities. Learn more about the regulations and taxes of Georgia cities for Airbnb properties.

As the 9th most popular US state, Georgia has naturally emerged as one of the top locations for Airbnb investing. The mild climate, the coastal beaches, Stone Mountain Park, Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Georgia Aquarium are some of the reasons why tourists flock to The Peach State year-round. The continuous demand for short term accommodation has, in turn, driven the growth of the Georgia vacation rental industry.

However, before hurrying to buy an Airbnb investment property, savvy real estate investors need to inform themselves of the Georgia short term rental laws. Moreover, they need to check the city-level regulations in the market of their choice to avoid legal issues with the local authorities.

Similar to Texas, California, and Alabama – Georgia has not adopted any state-wide Airbnb laws. The only requirement is that Airbnb hosts pay sales and hotel-motel taxes.

Meanwhile, the majority of Georgia cities have created their own vacation rental ordinances in an attempt to protect the wellbeing and safety of local residents. In this article we will take a look at the short term rental laws in seven of the most popular tourist cities in Georgia in order to help you decide on the best market to start or grow your real estate investment portfolio.

* If after reading this article, you need help in purchasing and managing a short term rental property in Georgia, keep in mind that Awning provides full vacation rental management services including navigating the legal paperwork and ensuring compliance with local requirements at an industry-low fee of 15% of revenue.

Georgia’s Definition of a Short Term Rental

The State of Georgia does not have its own definition of a short term rental. This is unlike most other US states which define a short term rental as providing lodging services to transient renters for a period of less than 30 consecutive days, for a fee. Indeed, the majority of cities in Georgia define Airbnb rentals in a similar manner.

In contrast, according to the North Carolina short term rental laws, the use of a vacation rental is limited to 90 days or less, while the upper limit in Alabama is 180 days.

Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Georgia

Starting an Airbnb business in Georgia does not require obtaining any state-level licenses and permits. The only thing that’s needed is to register with the Georgia Department of Revenue in order to be able to pay sales and hotel-motel (lodging) taxes. If you rent out through a third-party vacation rental marketplace (like Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.) that remits taxes on behalf of the owner, you don’t need to pay hotel-motel tax.

Registration can be done online, after which the applicant will receive a Georgia Tax Identification Number. This should happen within 15 minutes.

As an Airbnb host, you don’t need to form an LLC to run a Georgia short term rental business.

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Georgia

Due to the lack of Georgia short term rental laws, there is no requirement for the licensing of this type of investment property. Nevertheless, many major cities have their own rules and regulations, and it is your responsibility as an owner to check them before purchasing a property.

The only documents needed to operate a vacation rental business in Georgia are those related to registering at the Department of Revenue.

Georgia Short Term Rental Taxes

In the State of Georgia short term rental property owners are obliged to pay two main types of taxes: sales tax and hotel-motel tax. The state sales tax rate is 4%, while the lodging tax varies from one location to another. Importantly, if you rent your property through Airbnb or Vrbo, both of these platforms remit the hotel-motel tax on behalf of hosts, so you don’t have to file for it.

Taxes can be filed on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, and the frequency with which you have to do this will be assigned to you when you receive a Tax Identification Number. In all cases, the deadline is the 20th day of the month after the end of the filing period.

Georgia Vacation Rental Tax Deductions

Based on federal regulations, Georgia Airbnb hosts qualify for short term rental tax deductions if they rent out their property for more than 14 days per year and save it for personal use for up to 14 days per year. That’s an important benefit which investors need to take advantage of in order to optimize their Airbnb profit margin.

Airbnb hosts can deduct the following expenses:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Mortgage insurance premium
  • Property and other taxes
  • Depreciation
  • Maintenance
  • Utilities
  • Supplies
  • Cleaning, accounting, and other business services
  • Home office costs

As a smart investor, you should make sure to include all these tax deductions when filing taxes.

Statewide Short Term Rental Rules in Georgia

While there are no state-level vacation rental regulations in Georgia, most cities within the state have adopted their own rules. Below we will have a look at the Airbnb laws in seven of the most popular Georgia markets for this strategy.

Short Term Rental Rules By Georgia City

The majority of Georgia cities have enacted local short term rental laws. This has been in response to the quick growth of the Airbnb industry within the state and the need to provide safety and conform to local communities. Still, cities in Georgia do not prohibit renting out on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo as they want to allow local residents to benefit from renting out homes to visitors.

We will look at the Georgia short term rental laws by city in seven top markets across the state.

Atlanta Short Term Rental Laws

In March 2021, the Atlanta City Council adopted the City of Atlanta Short Term Rental Ordinance, which entered into enforcement in June 2022. According to this ordinance, a short term rental is defined as providing a residential dwelling unit for lodging for a period of no more than 30 consecutive days. Property owners, their agents, or long term tenants can operate a vacation rental business provided that they obtain a short term rental license. An individual can obtain up to two licenses, where one of the dwelling units has to be their primary residence, without any additional requirements, permits, zoning, fees, or other restrictions.

Importantly, the license for the primary residence has to be received first, but the primary residence does not have to be actively rented out on a short term basis for a second dwelling unit to be licensed and rented out.

Short term rental license applications can be submitted online, and it takes up to 10 business days to get the license.

Submitting an application requires the following information:

  • The address of the short term rental unit
  • The agent/24-hour contact person information including name, address, phone number, and email address
  • Acknowledgement signed by the agent that they have read and understand the requirements
  • The number and location of available parking spaces
  • Agreement by the agent to put the necessary efforts to ensure that the short term rental does not disturb the neighbors
  • Copy of the written rules posted in the short term rental unit
  • Non-refundable application fee of $150

In addition to paying the state sales tax, Atlanta Airbnb hosts have to collect and remit a 7% hotel-motel tax unless that’s done by the platform through which they rent out.

The adoption of these recent Atlanta short term rental laws has made operating a non-owner occupied vacation rental more tricky. While it is a viable option for local residents who choose to license their primary residence as well, it’s feasible for out-of-state investors only if they rent out through an agent who licenses their own primary residence.

Savannah Short Term Rental Laws

Similar to Atlanta, the City of Savannah defines a short term vacation rental (STVR) as the renting of an entire dwelling unit for up to 30 days. Meanwhile, the renting of a room within an owner-occupied dwelling unit is considered a bed and breakfast homestay; the renting of 2-5 rooms is considered a bed and breakfast; and the renting of 6-15 rooms is considered an inn and requires owner-occupancy or 24/7 on-site management.

Short term rentals are only allowed in the short term vacation rental overlay district including the Downtown, Victorian, and Streetcar districts as well as in certain business and agricultural zoning classifications outside the overlay. In the Downtown and Victorian districts new STVRs are capped at 20% of residential parcels within each ward, with owner-occupied parcels being exempt from the cap. Furthermore, license applications filed before September 28, 2017 are grandfathered and can be renewed.

To operate a Savannah Airbnb property, hosts need to obtain a STVR license.

The following information needs to be submitted with the license application:

  • Property address
  • Copy of the written agreement to be used between the property owner/agent and renters
  • Proof of property ownership
  • Proof of insurance
  • Adjacent neighbor notification
  • Copy of the adopted condo declaration if applicable
  • Property owner information including name, address, phone number, and email address
  • STVR unit information including address, number of bedrooms, and number and location of off-street parking spaces
  • Rental agent information including name, address, 24/7 phone number, and email address
  • STVR business location information including condition, property identification number, previous business use, ward, and owner-occupied vs. non-owner occupied
  • Non-refundable application fee of $400

Savannah short term vacation rental licenses are valid for one year and have to be renewed annually for a fee of $250.

Airbnb-style businesses are required to remit use and sales tax to the state at a rate of 7% and hotel-motel tax to the city at a rate of 6%.

Overall, Savannah short term rental laws might turn out challenging because of the zoning restrictions. Thus, before buying an Airbnb property in the local market, investors have to make a careful decision about the specific location.

Blue Ridge Short Term Rental Laws

In the City of Blue Ridge Airbnb investment properties are regulated by the Short Term Vacation Rental Ordinance, adopted in July 2019. According to this ordinance, new short term vacation rentals can be operated only on properties zoned for commercial use currently including the Central Business District (CBD), Limited Commercial (L-1), General Commercial (C-2), and Manufacturing District (M-1).

Importantly, operational short term rentals that are not eligible for certification under these new rules and that have been paying the monthly hotel-motel tax are considered grandfathered and can continue working until a change in ownership happens.

In order to run a Blue Ridge vacation rental business, you need to obtain a short term vacation rental certificate.

To submit an application, you need the following information:

  • Dwelling unit owner information including name, address, phone number, and email address
  • Business name information if applicable including name, DBA name, address, phone number, email address, and mailing address
  • Dwelling unit information including address and maximum occupancy
  • Agent information if applicable including name, address, phone number, and email address
  • Copy of agreement between owner and renter
  • Proof of ownership
  • Letter of agency
  • SAVE affidavit
  • E-Verify affidavit for businesses with more than 10 employees
  • E-Verify exemption affidavit for businesses with more than 10 employees
  • Annual rental certificate fee of $25 per establishment

Short term vacation rental licenses remain valid for one year in Blue Ridge, after which they need to be renewed.

Blue Ridge short term rental property owners need to pay the following taxes:

  • 7% sales tax
  • 6% lodging tax to Fannin County
  • 2% lodging tax to the City of Blue Ridge
  • $5 per night hotel tax

According to Blue Ridge short term rental laws, non-owner occupied Airbnb rentals are legal, as long as they are located in a permitted zoning district. Moreover, there is no limit on the number of vacation rental businesses that an owner can operate. This makes Blue Ridge a relatively conducive market for this real estate investing strategy.

Columbus Short Term Rental Laws

The City of Columbus, Georgia defines a short term rental unit as a residential dwelling unit - either the primary structure or any approved accessory dwelling - that is provided for lodging for a period of up to 30 consecutive days, to transient guests, for compensation. For the purposes of this definition, a residential dwelling unit includes all single family and multi family housing types and excludes group living and other lodging uses.

Operating a Columbus Airbnb business requires obtaining a short term rental permit as well as a business license from the Revenue Division of the Department of Finance.

Applying for a short term rental permit requires the following:

  • Property address
  • Building type
  • Applicant (owner or tenant) information including name, address, phone number, and email address
  • Owner information including name, address, phone number, and email address
  • 24/7 contact person or short term rental agent information including name, address, phone number, and email address
  • List of platforms where the property will be rented out
  • Valid liability insurance of $500,000 or more
  • Working smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside sleeping areas, and on all habitable floors
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Compliance with the City Minimum Property Maintenance, Building Electrical, Mechanical, and Plumbing Codes
  • Compliance with the Unified Development Ordinance
  • Digital floor plan
  • Non-refundable application fee of $40

Short term rental permits are valid for one year, so they need to be renewed on an annual basis. Moreover, licenses are not transferable to other people or locations.

The local hotel-motel tax rate is 8%.

Overall, the Columbus short term rental laws are good for investors as they allow the operation of an unlimited number of non-owner occupied properties.

South Fulton Short Term Rental Laws

In 2019 the City of South Fulton joined the list of Georgia cities regulating the vacation rental industry by adopting a Short Term Rental Ordinance.

Renting out a property for less than 30 days requires obtaining a short term rental license, an occupation tax certificate, and a business license.

To submit a short term rental application in South Fulton, you need the following:

  • Property owner information including name, address, phone number, and email address
  • Short term vacation rental unit information including address, number of bedrooms, number of off-street parking spaces, and location of off-street parking spaces
  • Rental agent information including name, address, 24/7 phone number, and email address
  • Written agent certification form
  • Notarized sworn code compliance verification form
  • Copy of written agreement between property owner and tenant
  • Proof of property ownership
  • Proof of insurance for $500,000 or more
  • Proof that adjacent neighbors have been notified of the application
  • Copy of adopted condo declaration if applicable
  • Non-refundable annual fee of $200

Short term rental licenses expire on December 30th of each year and needs to be renewed annually.

South Fulton Airbnb hosts need to pay a hotel-motel tax of 8% on a monthly basis.

Generally speaking, the short term rental laws in South Fulton are good for investors as they can operate multiple non-owner occupied vacation rental properties.

Sandy Springs Short Term Rental Laws

The City of Sandy Springs defines a short term rental unit as any non-subsidized house, apartment, condominium, room, or lodging accommodation on any property within the city limits that is rented out to the same tenant for less than 30 days. Importantly, a short term rental unit needs to be located inside or adjacent to the owner’s occupied dwelling located on the same property. This means that according to Sandy Springs short term rental regulations, non-owner occupied Airbnb properties are virtually impossible.

Running a Sandy Springs Airbnb business requires a short term rental unit permit and a business license. Prior to receiving a permit, the property has to be inspected for compliance with all applicable building and fire codes. Moreover, owners have to give notice of the operation of a short term rental unit to all residential parcels and HOAs immediately adjacent to the unit.

Short term rental units are valid for one year. Issuing a business license costs $125, and it has to be renewed annually.

Sandy Springs vacation rental owners need to pay a hotel/motel tax at a rate of 7%.

All in all, Sandy Springs has one of the most restrictive Georgia short term rental laws by city, which makes it a suboptimal location for out of state investors.

Roswell Short Term Rental Laws

The City of Roswell has very unclear rules regulating the short term rental industry. There is no single ordinance which lists all regulations and requirements.

Different sources point to the fact that Roswell short term rentals are not allowed in residential zones, while bed and breakfasts are allowed in the Downtown Historic Districts. They have to be licensed and registered as a business.

Roswell Airbnb hosts have to pay a hotel-motel tax of 8%.

Despite the vague vacation rental regulations, Roswell could be a good place to invest in an Airbnb. Investors are recommended to consult with a local property manager to confirm if their selected location is allowed for short term rentals.

Takeaway

The State of Georgia is a great place to buy a vacation rental for many different reasons. The lack of state-wide Georgia short term rental laws is one of the main reasons. Nevertheless, various Georgia cities have adopted different city-level regulations, some of which are more conducive, while others are more restrictive. As an investor, it is your responsibility to study the local rules and ensure compliance.

* If after reading this article, you need help in purchasing and managing a short term rental property in Georgia, keep in mind that Awning provides full vacation rental management services including navigating the legal paperwork and ensuring compliance with local requirements at an industry-low fee of 15% of revenue.

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